SANFORD - Great music by Southern Lee High School's Marching Band, a visit by Santa Claus, and lighting of the Christmas tree all added to the festivities Dec. 4 as Central Carolina Community College hosted its Third Annual Christmas Tree Lighting celebration for the community.
The Marching Band escorted Santa onto the college's Lee County Campus plaza, much to the delight of the children of all ages who came to welcome him.
While the band entertained, Santa took his special seat in the college's Welcome Center, which had been transformed with holiday decorations. There, the jolly old elf delighted the little ones and brought smiles to their families' faces by having his picture taken with them. Charlee Cougar, the college mascot, was also on hand, having his picture snapped by many of the visitors.
On the plaza, children gathered around Dr. Brian Merritt, CCCC Vice President of Student Learning, listening eagerly as he read Clement Moore's holiday classic, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
Then, the children and their families counted down to the moment when the Christmas tree suddenly glowed with its bright lights.
The crowd filled the college's plaza, enjoying hot chocolate prepared by CCCC Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department Chair Chef Gregg Hamm's Cafe 121 and cookies made by student inmates in the college's baking program at the Harnett Correctional Institution.
The "North Pole Post Office" was set up in the college's Business Services to allow children to write and send letters to Santa.
The college's Phi Theta Kappa honor society had the "Santa's Workshop" area for children to create and decorate greeting cards.
Amanda Rhoads, of Sanford, attended the event with children, Matthew, 10, and Madison, 5. "I thought it was great," she said. "We really enjoyed it."
"I think it's awesome," said Ashli Britt, of Sanford, who attended with children Kaleigh, 9, and Daulton, 6.
The Christmas Tree Lighting was planned and coordinated by the CCCC Foundation and college volunteers.
"This is a great way for the college to start the season," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "This is fast becoming a college tradition."
Those who had pictures taken with Santa can view and download them at the college's website, www.cccc.edu/santapics.
Dr. Brian Merritt, Central Carolina Community College Vice President of Student Learning, read the holiday classic, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, at the college's Third Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the college's Lee County Campus.
Santa Claus visits with one of the many children who attended the Central Carolina Community College Third Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the college's Lee County Campus.
Members of the Southern Lee High School Marching Band perform during the Central Carolina Community College Third Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the college's Lee County Campus.
There was plenty of joy at the lighting of the Christmas tree during the Central Carolina Community College Third Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the college's Lee County Campus.